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Shian Liu, Renaud Lafage, Justin S. Smith, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Virginie C. Lafage, Vincent Challier, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Kris Radcliff, Paul M. Arnold, Jens R. Chapman, Frank J. Schwab, Eric M. Massicotte, S. Tim Yoon, Michael G. Fehlings and Christopher P. Ames


Cervical stenosis is a defining feature of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). Matsunaga et al. proposed that elements of stenosis are both static and dynamic, where the dynamic elements magnify the canal deformation of the static state. For the current study, the authors hypothesized that dynamic changes may be associated with myelopathy severity and neck disability. This goal of this study was to present novel methods of dynamic motion analysis in CSM.


A post hoc analysis was performed of a prospective, multicenter database of patients with CSM from the AOSpine North American study. One hundred ten patients (34%) met inclusion criteria, which were symptomatic CSM, age over 18 years, baseline flexion/extension radiographs, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaires (modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association [mJOA] score, Neck Disability Index [NDI], the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey Physical Component Score [SF-36 PCS], and Nurick grade). The mean age was 56.9 ± 12 years, and 42% of patients were women (n = 46). Correlations with HRQOL measures were analyzed for regional (cervical lordosis and cervical sagittal vertical axis) and focal parameters (kyphosis and spondylolisthesis between adjacent vertebrae) in flexion and extension. Baseline dynamic parameters (flexion/extension cone relative to a fixed C-7, center of rotation [COR], and range of motion arc relative to the COR) were also analyzed for correlations with HRQOL measures.


At baseline, the mean HRQOL measures demonstrated disability and the mean radiographic parameters demonstrated sagittal malalignment. Among regional parameters, there was a significant correlation between decreased neck flexion (increased C2–7 angle in flexion) and worse Nurick grade (R = 0.189, p = 0.048), with no significant correlations in extension. Focal parameters, including increased C-7 sagittal translation overT-1 (slip), were significantly correlated with greater myelopathy severity (mJOA score, Flexion R = −0.377, p = 0.003; mJOA score, Extension R = −0.261, p = 0.027). Sagittal slip at C-2 and C-4 also correlated with worse HRQOL measures. Reduced flexion/extension motion cones, a more posterior COR, and smaller range of motion correlated with worse general health SF-36 PCS and Nurick grade.


Dynamic motion analysis may play an important role in understanding CSM. Focal parameters demonstrated a significant correlation with worse HRQOL measures, especially increased C-7 sagittal slip in flexion and extension. Novel methods of motion analysis demonstrating reduced motion cones correlated with worse myelopathy grades. More posterior COR and smaller range of motion were both correlated with worse general health scores (SF-36 PCS and Nurick grade). To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate correlation of dynamic motion and listhesis with disability and myelopathy in CSM.

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Michael G. Fehlings, Justin S. Smith, Branko Kopjar, Paul M. Arnold, S. Tim Yoon, Alexander R. Vaccaro, Darrel S. Brodke, Michael E. Janssen, Jens R. Chapman, Rick C. Sasso, Eric J. Woodard, Robert J. Banco, Eric M. Massicotte, Mark B. Dekutoski, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Christopher M. Bono and Christopher I. Shaffrey


Rates of complications associated with the surgical treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) are not clear. Appreciating these risks is important for patient counseling and quality improvement. The authors sought to assess the rates of and risk factors associated with perioperative and delayed complications associated with the surgical treatment of CSM.


Data from the AOSpine North America Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Study, a prospective, multicenter study, were analyzed. Outcomes data, including adverse events, were collected in a standardized manner and externally monitored. Rates of perioperative complications (within 30 days of surgery) and delayed complications (31 days to 2 years following surgery) were tabulated and stratified based on clinical factors.


The study enrolled 302 patients (mean age 57 years, range 29–86) years. Of 332 reported adverse events, 73 were classified as perioperative complications (25 major and 48 minor) in 47 patients (overall perioperative complication rate of 15.6%). The most common perioperative complications included minor cardiopulmonary events (3.0%), dysphagia (3.0%), and superficial wound infection (2.3%). Perioperative worsening of myelopathy was reported in 4 patients (1.3%). Based on 275 patients who completed 2 years of follow-up, there were 14 delayed complications (8 minor, 6 major) in 12 patients, for an overall delayed complication rate of 4.4%. Of patients treated with anterior-only (n = 176), posterior-only (n = 107), and combined anterior-posterior (n = 19) procedures, 11%, 19%, and 37%, respectively, had 1 or more perioperative complications. Compared with anterior-only approaches, posterior-only approaches had a higher rate of wound infection (0.6% vs 4.7%, p = 0.030). Dysphagia was more common with combined anterior-posterior procedures (21.1%) compared with anterior-only procedures (2.3%) or posterior-only procedures (0.9%) (p < 0.001). The incidence of C-5 radiculopathy was not associated with the surgical approach (p = 0.8). The occurrence of perioperative complications was associated with increased age (p = 0.006), combined anterior-posterior procedures (p = 0.016), increased operative time (p = 0.009), and increased operative blood loss (p = 0.005), but it was not associated with comorbidity score, body mass index, modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association score, smoking status, anterior-only versus posterior-only approach, or specific procedures. Multivariate analysis of factors associated with minor or major complications identified age (OR 1.029, 95% CI 1.002–1.057, p = 0.035) and operative time (OR 1.005, 95% CI 1.002–1.008, p = 0.001). Multivariate analysis of factors associated with major complications identified age (OR 1.054, 95% CI 1.015–1.094, p = 0.006) and combined anterior-posterior procedures (OR 5.297, 95% CI 1.626–17.256, p = 0.006).


For the surgical treatment of CSM, the vast majority of complications were treatable and without long-term impact. Multivariate factors associated with an increased risk of complications include greater age, increased operative time, and use of combined anterior-posterior procedures.

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Faisal S. Taleb, Abhijit Guha, Paul M. Arnold, Michael G. Fehlings and Eric M. Massicotte


Patients with neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF-1) at the cervical spine present significant surgical challenges due to neural compression, multiplicity of tumors, and complex spinal deformities. Iatrogenic instability following resection of tumors is underappreciated in the literature. The focus of this study was to understand the indications for stabilization in this specific group of patients.


The authors performed a retrospective review of 20 cases involving NF-1 patients with symptomatic cervical spine neurofibromas who underwent surgical decompression and tumor resection, with or without instrumentation, between 1991 and 2008. They also included 2 additional cases involving patients treated before 1991. Imaging findings and data pertaining to clinical presentation, intraoperative management, and postoperative assessment were compiled to clarify the indications for stabilization. An ordinal pain scale based on patient self-assessment was used. Neurological function was evaluated using American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale scores.


The patient group comprised 13 men and 9 women. Their median age at presentation was 42.5 years; their median age at initial diagnosis of NF-1 was 30 years (range 8–74 years). The median duration of follow-up (since presentation) was 7 years (range 1–32 years). Progressive myelopathy was the main presenting symptom. Spinal cord compression was identified in 13 patients on presentation. Complete removal of the symptomatic tumors was performed in 11 patients. Ten patients underwent instrumented fusion during their first surgery. Six of these 10 required a second surgery—with fixation in 4 cases and without in 2. Of the 12 patients who did not receive instrumented fusion in their first surgery, 8 required a second surgery—with fixation in 5 cases and without in 3. Neurological deterioration due to progressive deformity was the indication for the second surgery in 3 of the 5 patients who required instrumented fusion only in their second surgery; the other 2 patients presented with neurological deterioration secondary to tumor progression. Four patients needed a third operation and instrumented fusion: 3 for deformity-related deficit and 1 for tumor progression. Based on the latest follow-up, 21 patients were stable clinically and radiologically, and 1 patient had died.


This specific group of patients represents a significant surgical challenge. In this retrospective analysis, emphasis is placed on early stabilization of the cervical spine to prevent late deformity as part of the comprehensive management of patients with NF-1.